If you think sniffing white eraser fluid to get high is something only street kids do, think again.
On Tuesday, Hindustan Times reported how students of a top school in Greater Noida were caught on CCTV cameras sniffing eraser fluid in class. The situation is as bad — or worse – in Delhi.
Schoolchildren as young as 10 are getting addicted to sniffing eraser fluid, glue, pain relieving balms, paint thinner, nail polish remover — available in any neighbourhood stationery or provision shop. Costing just Rs 15 to Rs 30, most children can buy it from their lunch money. Some make do with inhaling petrol from their parents’ cars and from parked bikes. Doctors say prolonged abuse can damage brain cells and cause cancer.
“I know of at least seven students in my class who have started sniffing; everyone knows about it,” said a Class 8 student of a central Delhi school whose class has about 50 students. Some do it on their way to school, some in bathrooms, empty playgrounds, even classroom backbenches, HT learnt.
It’s difficult for parents to find out, since most of the substances being abused are commonly found in homes. Even at school, it’s easy to get away. “Pour eraser fluid on your sleeve and sniff it, no one notices. It’s not like drinking or smoking a joint,” south Delhi school students say.
This also means most cases go unreported and untreated. “Just about one per cent of all the cases that we get are of inhalant abuse. Children as young as 13 start this and graduate to harder drugs,” said Anil Bhandoola, of Astha Kripa rehabilitation centre.